Barnsley-based company plans to make a big noise in UK brass band scene

Brass bands across the country are being urged to take the 21st Century by storm with the support of a Barnsley-based business.

Brass Bands England Ltd is a not-for-profit company which provides a range of support services to hundreds of brass bands across the country and is committed to raising the profile of modern brass banding.

The registered charity has recently overhauled its business to ensure it is on a sound footing with new branding, a new website and a comprehensive four-year strategy for growth.

All this has been achieved with the support of Enterprising Barnsley, a European-funded programme delivered by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council.

The music industry specialists now look forward to spearheading a renaissance in England’s brass bands movement.

Brass Bands England liaison and development officer Rachel Veitch-Straw said:

“Around 100,000 people are involved in brass banding in England and brass band music is a valued part of our social and cultural landscape – but is often taken for granted.

“We have set ourselves clear aims to increase public awareness and appreciation of brass bands and to give the bands themselves professional support to help them survive and thrive as viable community enterprises in the 21st century.”

Brass Bands England is an Arts Council-funded organisation and already supplies its members with regular funding workshops, consultancy and support.

In the next four years, it proposes to develop its new website as an interactive information-sharing hub and negotiate new deals with commercial suppliers to brass bands, such as insurance providers, outfitters and events management companies.

It aims to promote brass band sponsorship opportunities amongst businesses and better connect brass bands in to wider creative industry and arts activities.

Brass Bands England will also hold more of its business development, social media and marketing workshops for volunteers – and plans to improve accessibility by live web-streaming them so people can benefit remotely from the south west to the north east.

Before the end of 2018, Brass Bands England hopes to double membership to 800 bands and recruit two more members of staff to its existing three-strong team.

Rachel said:

“In part we aim to lead by example and putting our company on a stronger business footing is key to ensuring we are in a good position to spread good business acumen amongst the thousands of volunteers who keep brass bands going in this country.

“The support from Enterprising Barnsley has been brilliant and perfectly timed.

“The business coaching and web development expertise we’ve received has helped us achieve our aims much more quickly and assuredly.

“We are a national organisation but at the same time very proud to of our local roots and proud to be part of the Barnsley business community.”

Brass Bands England’s headquarters are in Stocks Lane, Barnsley.

The company has a 40 year history under its former title, the British Federation of Brass Bands and it renamed and became a limited company in 2012.

Local businessman and brass bander Mike Kilroy became its chairman in 2013.

Rachel, who plays the cornet herself, said:

“Another of our priorities will be to further increase the number of young people playing in bands. Brass banding has always been an inter-generational activity and offers many rewards for young and old.

“It develops excellent skills for employment – you have to be disciplined to practice; then be there, on time, in the right uniform, with the right equipment.”

Rachel added:

“There are plenty of excellent traditional bands out there, but also initiatives like Bollywood Brass based in Greenwich and the ironically named Hackney Colliery Band, which is nowhere near a pit and plays a mix funk, ska, hip-hop and jazz. Contemporary composers are busy writing new compositions for conventional brass bands to add to their repertoires too.”

Enterprising Barnsley business development manager Andy Arnold said:

“It’s been a pleasure to help Brass Bands England develop into a strong not-for-profit company with a modern outlook.

“They are supporting a cultural sector with a treasured national heritage and the future looks bright for brass banding with the full force of Brass Bands England behind the movement.”

Enterprising Barnsley is supported financially by the European Union and has attracted £2,259,511 investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development, through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme. 

Brass Bands England national liaison officer Rachel Veitch-Straw

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